Email Lists and Tracking

I think that if this tree could only talk, the tales it would have to tell. …. look all its structure and growth . … and the twists and turns of the branches. One purpose of trees is to give us air to breath and are just plain beautiful in every stage .. which makes the world a better place to live. Photo: Through The Years – Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella.

The branches of the tree in this picture reminds me of the winding of the information on the internet. I can only imagine all the directions our emails are going back and forth. And how keeping track of it all might be confusing if you think long enough about it.

There seems to be much talk these days about Big Tech and Surveillance Capitalism. Where in short your data online is not as private as you may think, and how this is abusing the freedom of the internet (true freedom I think is to use your ability to do the right thing).

Another aspect of this is the mailing lists or newsletters we subscribe to with our email address. Many of these emails you get into your inbox use what is called spy pixels. It has to do with open rates and deliverability.

In fact, Apple is now allowing these to be blocked on the iPhone, and DuckDuckGo now does this through their Android bowser app. What this means is that when I send a newsletter out to my mailing list, will I get a true stat as to the click opens and links click on?

Then the thought came to me that the mailing list providers allow senders like me to do the same thing that Big Tech is doing. To add to this, even if the email list service allows you to turn off this tracking (only a few do this) it is said they still have access to click data to “prevent abuse”

I think this is what is going to make RSS shine now more than ever, unless you can find a list service that lets you truly turn off tracking. So, for this blog I have decided to go back to my first thoughts and no longer use a mailing list. I’m not selling anything.

The Messages In Our Lives

Photo: The Messages In Our Lives – Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella

How we respond to others has a huge impact on the world.

How we treat others makes a huge impact on how they see the world around them.

The messages in our lives shared through experiences and examples, though subtle, speak and teach louder than words ever can.

Email And Mental Health

Ice patters on black pavement juxtaposed with shadow patterns from the morning sunlight. Although this may look difficult to walk on, it is something beautiful to look at. Likewise, the challenges or struggles we face in life can strengthen us, because it is how God brings beauty to our lives. Photo: Sunlight Shadows on Ice – Abstract – Copyright 2016 Frank J Casella.

I have noticed recently more and more that people are talking about how overwhelmed they are with their email inbox and the need to make it more digestible. We know that social media has an effect on our mental health, with the algorithms and all, but we forget that email can have the same effect, for one, with the spam hitting our inbox and sorting through it all.

In fact, many people don’t realize that email is the original social media. For example, I have contact groups set up and send updates to these contacts short of a social media post. Then those who wish to respond do so either direct or reply all. So, just like social media works to absorb all your attention, we can spend equal time in the email inbox.

The other thing is with the unified inbox of having several email addresses in one account. This way you can keep together both business and personal communications, for example. But now with all the noise in the inbox, many are seeking to change their email setup, to login to separate email accounts for each area of their lives.

This can also be very useful for your security, because it reduces the risk of identity fraud and your data being compromised in the event that one of your accounts is hacked. I have shared before how your email address today is like what your street address used to be. Not as many people ring the doorbell at my street address these days but, when they did, I only answered the door if it was someone that I knew.

I do the same with email today, I have an auto responder set up to reply to addresses not in my contact list. It thanks the sender for contacting me. I then only respond if I have something to say. This makes a tremendous difference in my mental health, because it keeps my email time constructive and manageable.

Basketball Is Really A Numbers Game

Photo ‘Basketball Is Really A Numbers Game‘ Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella

Player count; jersey number, score board, player stats, and how few actually play the sport professionally. Basketball, like any sports, and a part of life, is all about numbers.

Then, if you actually get to play pro ball, your name and skill become celebrity, only to the extent how your numbers stack up to make money for the industry … and business relationships.

As we grow up. sports activities bring with it many lessons about life. It also has a secret way to teach us about communication, relationships, numbers, and business.

Bold Colors Down The Trail

Photo: Bold Colors Down The Trail Reds, Brown, Golds, and Greens highlight the Fall colored trees against the bright blue sky at Homewood Izaak Walton Preserve in Illinois. I especially like the shadow play on the trail leading to the joy of Autumn. You wonder if when we get to Heaven if we’ll be lead down a path such as this. Copyright 2020 Frank J Casella

Blessed Are The Poor In Spirit

Photo: Blessed Art The Poor In Spirit – Copyright 2017 Frank J Casella

In America, we live in a culture that says more is better, but is this a lie?

We all have our stuff packed away in the basements of our homes, sometimes extending to storage sheds that we pay to put our stuff.

And, no matter our social rank, the more stuff we have, whether possessions or in our head, the more we get distracted from the true meaning of life.

Recently I went through my stuff, with the mindset that if I die tomorrow what of it will end in the trash. It turned out most of it. I haven’t touched this stuff in years …

The poor in spirit: in the Old Testament, the poor are those who are without material possessions and whose confidence is in God, who recognized their complete dependence on God.

Do you allow yourselves to become attached to your possessions? What came with this for me was a form of spiritual poverty, as small as it was …

When we are free from stuff, we free ourselves from distraction. God’s will is that we depend on Him, what more could you want?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Mt. 5:3

Should Artists or Nonprofits Use A Domain Name?

Photo: The Joy of Art and Story – People admire the Art collection at the Union League Club in Chicago, Illinois – Copyright 2014 Frank J Casella.

It is said that if you want to be successful as an artist or nonprofit that you should have your own website and domain name to establish credibility. I think this can also be said for freelancers or bootstrapers. Lets take a new look at this. …

As an independent artist myself, I have noticed many artist to be transacting business without a domain name or their own website, even though if you ask an artist guru to help you with marketing they will tell you otherwise. There are now a number of platforms who will facilitate your art business so that you can concentrate more on creating art and getting your audience (your distribution) to the platform.

The key here I think is that you focus on one of several platforms that you use to be your embassy or base, and use the other platforms for products or artwork that better fits there than from your base. Also it is important to guard your distribution, mainly your email list. And you don’t need your own domain name as long as your name (personal or business) is in the URL of the subdomain of each platform.

Likewise, as a co-founder of a nonprofit, I find the same holds true if you are a nonprofit or freelancer, where I think it is more important to design any landing pages, like for a mailing list subscription page or a donation page, to have the same look and feel of your main platform. I find many nonprofits and freelancers using blogging or email list providers that employ a freemium business model to be successful.

In talking with many people in my circles on their experiences, the common response is that people just want to see your stuff, what you can do for them, and the impact of the important work you do. I’m told the use of URL addresses from free email or subdomains from freemium sites has no effect, especially if they have used custom sites and domains in the past. Content and presentation is most important.

So I hope this helps answer your questions about using a domain name or your own website if you are a nonprofit or artist. As long as your work has impact, and is distinctive and unique, then you should be fine.

Falling Leaves Green Grass – Abstract

A Fall leaf in the grass that illustrates the perfection of what God has created, to enjoy this beauty while on earth, in addition to His creating our lives. Although the leaf has flaws and scars, it still brings much beauty into the world for the short time of one season, just as our lives our short lived. Copyright 2019 Frank J Casella

Privacy, Security, and the Web

Photo: ‘Protection‘ – A man walks with a woman under an umbrella on a rainy Chicago city street – Photograph Copyright 2008 Frank J Casella

There is much talk these days with digital communications about privacy and security, because there seems to be much confusion mostly on what Big Tech is doing with it.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, known for inventing the internet navigation system known as the World Wide Web, has a mission which seems to be working toward a world in which users are in control, and empowered by large amounts of data, private, shared, and public.

Sir Tim is also an advisor to both social networking site MeWe and Email provider Protonmail, to name two. Both if these platforms use the Freemium business model, where the main features are accessible to all, and premium features available at added cost. Both are very private and very secure.

My take on this is, your website or blog should be open for all to be educated and informed, and your personal life should be private if you so choose. And the other aspect of security, for instance, the Vivaldi business model that this blog is hosted on – as they say the unnecessary collection of data is dangerous and has no place in your browser. And the same goes with their blog and webmail services.

So, all this to say, I think, privacy and security is something that should be by default, and not something you have to pay for.